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The 4 differences between state and government

The 4 differences between state and government

August 12, 2022

In order that the different people who are part of the same group can organize their activity, the human being has created and developed several mechanisms and organizations that allow a correct management of the behavior and activity of its components. These mechanisms act to direct and establish the limits of the conduct and try to guarantee that the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of each member of society are fulfilled.

The figure of the State is formed, which will be directed by the Government. Both concepts have come to be confused on many occasions, so in this article we are going to try to establish the main differences between state and government .


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Defining State and government

When we talk about the State, we are using a concept of a political and legal nature that refers to the set of elements that are part of a society. The State includes both the group of individuals that comprise it and the way of organizing it, as well as to a lesser extent the territory they occupy and their borders. The State is sovereign and from it emanate the different powers (legislative, executive and judicial) , and allows limits, norms, responsibilities, rights and freedoms to be established so that coexistence can be regulated.


But to get the State to function properly it is necessary that it be administered in some way. The government is responsible for this. It is understood as such to the set of individuals and institutions that administer the State, exercising for it the different functions of the executive branch. The government assumes the leadership of the society and the authority to make sure that the different laws are followed and implemented, being an important part of the State, although not the only one.

In this way we can perceive that the government is a part of the State , not being both concepts synonymous nor referring to the same.

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Main differences between government and state

Next we will observe some of the main differences between both concepts: State and Government.


1. Level of inclusion between concepts

One of the main differences between the State and government is that one is only part of the other. The State includes the government, which holds the political power (Specifically, it takes over the executive branch), as part of it.

But the State is much more, since this concept refers to the set of components of the same society, its territory and its way of organizing itself.

2. Abstraction level

Another aspect in which they differ is found in the level of abstraction that both concepts suppose. The government as an institution it is perceptible and it is possible to recognize those who are part of it , being able to identify the physical persons that comprise it.

However, the term State is rather an abstract concept in which the citizens, the territory and its organization are integrated, not being something clearly perceptible.

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3. Duration and stability

State and government are also different in another aspect: their duration. While the State remains unchanged over time Unless the unit is dissolved among its components or if it is integrated into a new State that includes it, the Government has a determined duration, either agreed in advance (as in our country, where we have elections every four years) or before the deposition with even the death of their rulers (as in dictatorships, or in countries with forms of government such as absolute monarchy).

4. Power

The level of power that government and state possess is also different, although there are clear differences depending on the type of government that a region has.

As a general rule in democratic countries The role of government is to exercise executive power or the application of laws , being the laws themselves elaborated and approved by other structures (in countries with absolute monarchy would also be responsible for other powers as well as in dictatorships the dictator tries to exercise legislative and judicial power) and having limited powers.

The State however is the source of all power (both executive and legislative and judicial), being sovereign and who decides who is given the power to govern and organize it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Rodríguez Suárez, M .; García Domínguez, C. and Justafré García, Y. (2012). The technical-legal difference between state and government. Contributions to the Social Sciences. Malaga University.

The Big Difference between “State” and “Government” (August 2022).


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